Are You Ready for Summer?!

12.28.12, MSG (G.Lucas)

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

With only a little over a week left before Bangor’s opener, the anticipation of the band’s 30th Anniversary Summer Tour is beginning to reach a fever pitch. It will have been been the longest off season in the band’s history—outlasting ’99’s drought by four days—when the band takes the stage in Maine, and fans are feeling the excitement across the country. In only nine days, the long and winding road of Summer 2013 will begin, and this week we start with a series of Summer Tour-based articles. Today I present my five wishes (in no particular order) for Phish’s upcoming month on the road.

1. New MaterialTrey has confirmed that the band is collaboratively writing a new album, though it doesn’t sound like it will be done before tour. Phish, very often, have debuted new songs in the live setting before they have come out on an album, so if any tracks have been completed, we might be hearing them come next week. Regardless of what new songs they feature, be them originals, side project contributions, or covers, I can’t remember a time in the band’s career when they were so glaringly in need of new material. Hopefully we’ll see some debuts in Bangor and SPAC, as the guys tend to drop fresh music at the front end of tour.

8.15.12 (Sam Heller)

8.15.12 (Sam Heller)

2. Continued Improvisational TrajectoryAnyone who has been paying attention to Phish for the past few years has to be on the edge of their seat with anticipation of what this Summer Tour will hold. The last seven shows—Dick’s and MSG—have produced the most astounding music of 3.0. Many fans were a tad apprehensive heading into MSG, concerned that Dick’s would be an outlier in the band’s improvisational course. The jams in Colorado were both emotionally powerful and technically complex; a retro run with a distinctly new-school vibe. Any doubts about this were erased, however, with 12/28’s “Tweezer”—another instant classic. All of a sudden, Phish was reliably excellent again! Though 3.0 has been an amazing ride, consistency hasn’t exactly been their strong suit. But after witnessing the level of jamming we heard in Colorado during the first show in New York, we realized the paradigm was shifting. Despite a throwaway on the 29th, the band followed up with a couple more of the year’s most impressive jams in 12/30’s “Disease” and “Carini,” and sealed the deal with an underrated “Ghost” on New Year’s Eve. If my calculations are correct, Phish should come out in Bangor ready to let things loose with more wide open, multi-tiered adventures. The band has improved considerably with each and every tour of this era, and assuming that trend continues, things are gonna get really, really interesting on Phish tour next month!

The Ocedoc (Phish FB)

The Ocedoc (Phish FB)

3. The Ocedoc—During this winter’s TAB tour, Trey primarily played his old Languedoc (the Ocedoc was nowhere to be seen). Just the other day, Phish tweeted a picture of his guitar tech setting up his rig with Trey’s old guitar in the shot. This combination has gotten some folks wondering if Trey will be using his former axe for Phish this summer as well. In all probability he will travel with both, but I—for one—hope he doesn’t leave his new six-string wonder child sitting at the back of the stage. As soon a Trey debuted the Ocedoc at the Greek in 2010, the enhanced sound and dynamic of his new instrument was obvious. He confirmed what everyone was hearing at the end of the first show when he introduced his “magic guitar.” The tone and clarity of the Ocedoc is unparalleled, and, in my opinion, was a huge improvement over anything he’s played before. Let’s hope Trey hasn’t changed his mind about his new axe, and the Ocedoc remains his central guitar this tour.

4. A Shift/Diversification in Jam VehiclesI realize that beggars can’t be choosers,  but this is a wish list, so here’s my wish. Throughout this era, Phish has grown more predictable than ever. That takes nothing away from the quality of their playing, but for anyone paying attention to their patterns, few things come as surprises in the live show anymore. Inevitably, the biggest jam of any given night will stem from “Disease,” “Light,” “Piper,” “Rock and Roll” “Sand,” “Tweezer” or “Ghost.” “Carini” and “Sally” provide wild card platforms, and occasionally the band will expand a cover like “Crosseyed” or “Drowned.” But what gives at some point? What about everything else? Just as the band adopted big staple jams from their former Halloween albums, why haven’t they brought one aboard from Exile and Waiting for Columbus—that’s a whopping 4 records to choose from! Wouldn’t it be fun for them to jams songs they have never jammed—or haven’t jammed often (or at all) this era? I gotta believe it would be. Think of “Yamar,” “Cities,” “The Wedge,” “Waves,” “Pebbles and Marbles,” “Seven Below,” “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” “Halley’s Comet,” “Free,” “2001,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Gumbo,” “Mike’s Song.” Let’s get songs like “Bathtub Gin,” “Simple,” “Reba, and ‘Wolfman’s” back into creative space. I’m not sure what’s holding the band back from jamming most of their catalog. Perhaps they don’t think people care that much any more? Someone should let them know that we do.

6/20/04 Setlist (Coventry Blog)

6/20/04 (Coventry Blog)

5. Complete ShowsThroughout the modern era, Phish’s musical high points mostly exist as jams, jam sequences, or segments of shows. Occasionally, the band will keep things focused and on point for an entire set and even less often, for an entire show. I’m sure this is a facet of their age and stamina as much as anything else, but it sure would be great to see them put a bit more forethought into their setlists and play start-to-finish performances. They don’t have to spell something with their song titles to make a great show, but a basic road map could greatly assist the cause, as Trey’s ability to call shows from the hip has flown by the wayside. On the rare occasion that Phish does play two smoking sets (see 8/31/12) we react as if the heavens parted and we were bestowed with a miracle. It didn’t used to take divine intervention for the band to put together two tight frames of music, and I honestly don’t think it takes much more than a bit of planning and focus. Hopefully, to celebrate their 30th year together, the guys will come to ready to play from note one through the end of each night this summer, and we will be left with a bunch of shows we can throw on the system years from now and just let roll without having to fast-forward the lulls.

What are your wishes for this Summer? Respond to @mrminer on Twitter with the hashtag #SummerWishes so everyone can follow the responses. And, of course, share your ideas in the comments section below!


Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Light > Ghost” 7.1.12 II, Alpine Valley, IN

One of the high points of Leg One 2012.

[audio:,,] Tags: ,

283 Responses to “Are You Ready for Summer?!”

  1. neemor Says:

    2013 will build on the framework created thus far in 3.0.
    That’s the best part.

    Can not wait for the first ICEY Mike bomb.

  2. kayatosh Says:

    more cool new tunes like steam. remember that badboy? spinning 6.30.2012 version.

    ren: you didn’t hear? ben harper will be the experimental 5 member of phish all summer..

  3. dorn76 Says:

    You have some reading back to do, @ren. Well worth it!

  4. kayatosh Says:

    6.30.12 steam was its last outing.

  5. MiA Says:

    I would love to have Phish just play Piper for 2-3 minutes before leaping into the lyrics.

    More jams obviously. We shall see.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    @Mmmhmm, dude, this is kinda crazy, we are also staying at Vantage! I have yet to camp there and was planing on asking the BB about it… Had included it in my earlier post but edited it out as I thought, maybe if I wait till monday morning more BB’ers will be on here and comin with the feedback…. But thanks! Sounds like Vantage is gonna work perfectly! …. Sounds like our paths are having similar reflections. See u there! Lady in hand, 30th birthday petrified forrest camping style.. What’s better than Phish at the Gorge!?!

  7. voopa Says:

    Vantage is the spot. You’ll love it.

  8. little umbrellas Says:


  9. neemor Says:

    As the beginning vocal round builds to a fever pitch in Light just before Trey takes the wheel….
    What a launchpad.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    So i guess mmhmm and I are three days apart in age . U gonna come to the Gorge Voopa?

  11. kayatosh Says:

    3 is the magic number

    there are 3 3 night stands pre-dicks and 3 two night stands.

  12. ren Says:

    @Mia—almost had to stop my fitness run the other day when I got to Nassau piper…a real piper like that will have me shedding floor tears. So vividly remember that build…warranting me to dance harder with each further push. PIPER is a build and really only a build. I’d be happy with one verse and done after the appropriate build.

    Time to read back and find some gems from the weekend

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    Stone RuinTen IPA (10.8%) is out now.

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    @telas this jon hopkins is HEAVY. more heady/less mass than the most recent electronic recs. thanks.

  15. btb Says:

    Morning Brahs and Wo0kettes!!

    I was at Northerly Island the other day and snapped some pics. I tried to post them on here, but wasn’t sure if it went through. Either way…

    View from left side of lawn

    View from front of lawn (rail)

    View looking from lawn to Lake Michigan

    View looking at Stage from center of lawn

    View from side of Stage looking at GA pit

    View of Marina to the back of the Stage

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Ren, not fiction, true story. And now I got Slick for proof! Sometimes the stories get dropped on a Sunday…

  17. voopa Says:

    I wish, but have to pass this year. I’ll be at Tahoe and BGCA for sure.

  18. DavidSilver Says:

    Ben Harper, Ben And Jerrys, Wavy Gravy? Coincidence? Just look at yourselves.

    Turn on your LoveLight! Don’t forget the Xeyed NoQuarter set up and Simpsons Secret Language.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    7.10.00 What’s the Use? — $$$; a must spin.

  20. sumodie Says:

    I put an apple lossless copy of the show in my orange (tho I forgot to zip it first). Available now

    Medeski, Martin & Wood with Special Guests – 6-23-2013
    Solid Sound Festival – North Adams, MA.

    1. Intro
    2. Sugarcraft > ?new song?
    3. Pappy Check (with David Hedalgo on electric guitar)
    4. Shackman (With Marc Ribot on electric guitar & David Hidalgo on acoustic guitar)
    5. ?Improv? > (with Nels Cline on electric guitar)
    6. Henduck (with Nels Cline on electric guitar)
    7. Hate It Here (with Nels Cline on electric guitar & Jeff Tweedy on vocals)
    8. Encore break
    9. Heaven On Earth (with Nels Cline on electric guitar)

  21. kayatosh Says:

    more fukuoka style shows.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Mornings all. Grabbed a new PC from work last week in TX so in process of carrying multiple GB’s of music over to new one.

    Nik Wallenda, douchiest tightrope walker over the Grand Canyon evah?

  23. kayatosh Says:

    sumo: that mmw show looks excellent. mmw is a exceptionally great band and not to be missed.

  24. marcoesq Says:

    wtf, didn’t realize Phish charges you for past LB’s??? And when are we gonna get a new one?

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    thanks for all the SSF reports @sumo…sounds like a very chill fest/locale.

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